Fire Safety

Title: Fire Safety
Time Period: January 16, 135 A.E.
Characters Appearing:

Summary: Luna's unconscious effort to burn down The Dovetail is foiled when a wildcat happens past her window.

The orange glow of firelight reflects off the small window, it's mostly overed in frost except for two holes where breath has warmed through. Another noseprint. Littered with wires, burnt strips of leather, bits of cloth, and melted metal, the fireplace is in dire need of cleaning. Which might be why the screen has been left open. A little while ago a coal jumped onto the wooden floor, fueled by the pile of old coals and other tidbits, it hasn't gone out. In fact, it's just gotten a little larger.

Smoke has begun to fill the room, unknown to its occupant who is (at the moment), laying face up on the stripped bed. Earlier in the evening, she finished her breakfast, lunch, and supper, and is now clutching the bottle as tightly as a new mother would her baby. Still, even in a deep sleep, the urge to cough is overwhelming. So is the desire to turn over and nestle a little into the bare pillow.

Slitted eyes the same ember orange of fire licking the floorboards look on in impassive silence through the frosted window, whiskers bristled long and tail curled thick about heavy paws.

Across the room, the knob jimmies at the door, rattle and click for the beat it takes Algernon to gain himself entry. Sans key, he shoulders in with all the abruptness an unplanned fire generally calls for, pick and pry tucked trimly back into the black of his coat as he closes the door and crosses to scrape out that lone ember's aspirations with the tread of his boot.

Dubious about the state of the rest of the fire — contained to the place it belongs (for now) — he measures it and moves next to open the window, eyes slitted to match his familiar's at the sudden draw of smoke it creates. Draft sweeps in, smoke drags out.

In the open rectangle of the window, Forge licks once at his chops and yawns wide, fangs pegged long in his jaws.

"You might've mentioned the smoke," says Algernon quietly and not-quite-to-himself, hat fanned halfheartedly to speed along smog's exuent. He looks to Luna last of all, brows set at an inscrutable level.

Where there's fire, says Forge.

The draft causes the woman on the bed to curl inward a little more, it's not as lovely warm as it was moments ago. Smoke is such a small price to pay for comfort. For all the clothing she wears, it's not enough to ward off a chill and with a groan she turns over, bottle still in hand.

She doesn't open her eyes or even get up. Her stockinged feet twitch as much as a dreaming dog chasing a rabbit, only with a few less growls and barks. Then her arm extends and her fingers uncurl from around the neck of her precious. It's the smash against the floor that wakes her.

"So refined," says Algernon of Luna's groan and roll with bottle, more resigned than malicious. It's still warmer inside than it is out, and he sets into the early stages of unbuttoning and shrugging out of his coat. The finest Dornie has to offer.

The look exchanged between man and wildcat is not strictly friendly.

Then Forge is off like a shot at the smash of bottle to floor, bristle and spook raking snow in across Fogg's boots before he's managed to stiffen at the sound. He's slow to finish the process of folding his coat over his arm, adrenaline swallowed tersely past the sour taste in his mouth. "Morning."

The male voice, unrecognized at first and distinctly English, has Luna sitting up and backing away toward the wall. It's only when she hits it that she looks up at the face (and moustache) and the familiarity is acknowledged.

"Mister Fogg," she shivers and glances toward the open window. Swallowing, the younger woman lowers her eyes from his, a measure of shame overcoming her as she folds her arms over her chest. Inching her way toward the end of the bed, she stands, however unsteadily, and makes her way toward the window. It's closed and the handle turned to lock it in place.

"It has to stay shut," smoke or not, she'll suffer through it as stoicly as she does everything else in her life. "Please."

Algernon is Algernon, as nonplussed by the recoil as he is by ensuing shame. Her progress for the open window is marked with the eye of one who anticipates she might keel over again at any moment, coat settled aside across a dresser to free up his arms. In that (likely) event.

"With respect, Miss Owens," he reaches deliberately to turn the same handle in the opposite direction to unlock it again, "smoke inhalation will finish you before hypothermia if it does."

"There is something out there. See here," she points toward the noseprints and reaches for the handle again, closing her chilly fingers around his in an attempt to wrestle the latch down again. The cold air is sobering enough, as unwelcome as that is, but when the first few flakes blow in the window, she shrinks back again. This time to the fire.

It's low.

A pile of rags in a bucket provide more than enough fuel. When she draws the first of them out, the shimmer gives them away as pieces of one of her satin dresses. The shoulder and arm, along with a couple of sticks of wood, brighten the room with a more vibrant glow.

Fogg leans into squint at the evidence, agnostic inspection cut off with a carefully muffled sigh while she tries at his grip and he more or less ignores her.

Nose prints.

Are we really going there?

Very discreet.

Because if we are —

Party A becomes aware of Luna's sudden absence at his side in conjunction with better light through the room and he turns, slowly, extended focus muffled by realization. Window still open behind him, Algernon watches her stoke the fire, lukewarm incredulity peaked between his brows. He can't summon enough naivity to be surprised. "I trust you recognize the faulty logic in fueling a fire that nearly consumed your home…" he trails off to check his pocket watch, "four minutes ago."

"It did?" She wasn't awake for that part. There's a slight turn of Luna's head as she examines the area around the fireplace. Sure enough there's a black spot on the wooden floor, something she'll likely have to explain to Edme, or cover with a carpet. Or just lock her out of the room. "Oh, well then. In all fairness, this fire isn't really that fire, now is it? That fire might have started from this one, but this one is fairly contained."

Luna logic at its finest.

Regardless, she picks up the kettle, usually used for tea, and pours a bit of water on it to douse the embers, sending more plumes of greyish black smoke into the air. This time it spirals more into the chimney than the rest of the room. She watches it for a while, then turns a puzzled gaze on Fogg. "Are you here to lecture me about fire safety? Or did you come for some other reason?" It's not the purr of invitation that one of the other girls might give. The room isn't exactly ready for company, given the maroon stained mattress in want of bedding and the fact that she's burning dresses. Not because she's in dire need of wood.

~In all fairness, this fire isn't really that fire, now is it? That fire might have started from this one, but this one is fairly contained.~

Through all of this, Algernon looks at Luna like he isn't sure if she is serious.

She is.

An unseen source of irritation finally gets the best of him and he has to scrub a hand up against the grain of his chops, hat collected from atop his coat once he's steeled himself out with a breath and a furrow at his brow. "Fire safety," he answers. Resolutely, even, as he seats his hat back down upon his head. And on just enough of a delay to indicate that he is most likely lying. "Who do you associate with, aside from your clients."

"I— " If he's asking for a count of friends, Luna finds herself nearly speechless. "Mariah, she's one of the girls here. Sometimes I go visiting… people." People. "My healer, the market, you know.." She waves her hand in a careless circle in the air. "People." Her brow draws downward as she makes a mental assessment of exactly who 'people' are. Not many of them friends.

"Can I offer you— " The clear bottle's empty but there's wine and a clean glass, "— some wine? I think I'm full up but you're more than welcome." She moves away from the fire, automatically assuming his answer to the affirmative and begins the process of pouring. The globe is filled a little more than halfway before she tips the bottle upright again and offers the glass to the soldier. "And yourself? Who do you associate with?"

"Wine and what?" Algernon asks without pretense, though he relieves her of the glass either way. He is neither impressed by or sympathetic to her 'list' of associates, marking the only specific name listed for later reference without asking further after it.

To answer her field and return of the same line of inquiry, he — doesn't. Really. A reluctant look of consideration sideways culminates in apathetic dismissal. A kind of acrid half shrug that is really just a shift at one shoulder.

A talking cat.

"Wine and nothing," Luna retorts with a slight incline of her chin. Like she'd waste powders or herbs on a man that didn't appreciate them, is not the sentiment behind the stubborn set to her jaw. "After a recent incident, I'm making the effort— " however small "— to put some of my vices behind me." The impact of broken glass on the floor is eyed with a certain aloofness. "Some. Of them." Pulling a shawl up from the back of a chair, she wraps it around her thin frame.

"It's proving a bit difficult." Is really all she'll allow.

Then she flops down into it, as though it's just too wearying to stand anymore. Her eyes find the black mark, then dart toward the door… that has somehow been opened. "Thank you," she says, out of context and unbidden, "I suppose, according to certain traditions, you own my life."

Luna looks to the broken glass and so does Algernon, skepticism in the clear, greenish cut of his eyes subdued somewhat by the first sip of wine he allows himself to take.

"Is that how it works, here?"

He does not seem at all convinced. For some reason. Hard to tell if it's tied into her particular brand of melodrama or previous lives saved without benefit of offered ownership afterwards.


Post maintained near the dresser (and his coat), he sips again. If he is basking in the prize he's apparently won, his 'bask,' looks line for line exactly like his 'stare flatly into the middle distance.' And then his 'stare flatly at whatever remains of the dress she hasn't put into the fire.' "I don't suppose that means you'll endeavor to take better care of it."

The question is pondered for a half a minute, at least, before both of Luna's bony shoulders twitch upward in something of a shrug. "I suppose it's how it works anywhere. If you save someone's life and they tell you that they owe you, I assume it's the entirety of their life that's in your debt." Her lips purse and pucker outward, glistening slightly in the firelight, from a fine coat of beeswax and jelly. "Unless they never wanted to be saved in the first place, then they wouldn't owe you anything."

She follows his stare toward the rest of the dress and nods slightly, one corner of her lips twitching slightly. Perhaps from shame or self depreciating humor. "I've been trying, over the past few days." Luna looks up at him from her seat in the chair and draws her legs up, the stockings on her feet not any worse for wear from walking on the floor.

"I suppose it'll be difficult to work, being all there instead of far far away."

"Ah," says Algernon. Succinct as ever.

If he looks tired suddenly, a deepening drag to the pull of his diaphragm is as likely to do with the wine as anything; he swallows down the remainder of the wine she's poured him and turns the stem of the glass neatly over between his fingers, at an almost awkward loss for encouragement.

"Avoiding selfish distraction does wonders for clarity of mind." What wise man said that, I wonder?

Algernon nearly rolls his eyes, tempering himself into a slow blink at her socks instead.

As the last drop is drained, Luna automatically stands and crosses toward him. The bottle is picked up and tipped toward his glass, a silent offer for more. It isn't drugged, after all. He wouldn't be in the condition that she's in right now. Just a different one.

"I suppose it does have its good points sometimes," she murmurs in admission. "I'm just afraid that I wouldn't enjoy my profession as much if I had a clear head all of the time." As if drinking as much alcohol as she does could ever grant her that.

"I wonder, Mister Fogg," her eyes narrow catlike and her lips curve into a crooked smile aimed directly at him, "if I would be as popular if I wasn't half gone whenever I'm entertaining. I suppose I would have to overcome some of my uglier traits before taking on clients again."

Luna offers the bottle, Algernon offers the glass. For her to take, rather than for her to refill. Still allergic, it seems, to public (or even slightly less than private) intoxication.

"There are other professions." And it's all uphill from 'prostitute,' isn't it? Having failed to empathise with or otherwise grasp her anxiety in that arena, Fogg is half turning back for his coat when she 'wonders.' He stays his reach to parse the change in expression and tone only to come up short with the assumption that he is missing her point, somehow.

"Yes?" isn't meant to be a question, for all that it sounds like one. And? is the implied follow up. That sounds precisely how self-improvement is supposed to work.

And… well.

"Do you dance?" It seems that she completely missed his refusals of partners during the last soiree that was thrown in Dornie. Then again, Luna is a little self absorbed. "I would imagine that a man seeming as refined as yourself would at least know a few dances. Some of the better ones, I would wager." Her eyebrow quirks upward and she steps in unnecessarily close to him in order to put the bottle and the glass down on the dresser.

"I was very rudely reminded a few nights ago why it is that I don't like to be touched." She tilts her head slightly to the side as she looks up at him, this time there's a stubborn lift to her chin. "I feel safer with you than most men around Dornie, because I have the feeling that you would rather roll in a swine's sty than touch me. Therefore, you are much less likely to hurt me."

A keen observer might note that Algernon looks uncomfortable before Luna steps in close. More like as soon as she's asked and he's registered that he's been caught off guard by the question (and those that follow). Rigid impulse to lie bitten back for believability's sake, he hedges his bets with a low, queerly formal, "I am out of practice," that will have to do.

"And I have consorted with prostitutes before."

On the subject of touch. It's difficult to tell whose defense he's speaking in. Mainly his own. Most likely. Either way, he splays a hand plainly at her hip in a concentrated effort to refuse being ruffled. "Touch can be utilized for unconscious control, when wielded effectively." It can also be utilized for slaps to the face.

"I know you have," she caught him sneaking out once. Luna's body goes rigid as she feels Algernon's fingers curve around her. "I haven't had any herbs today." That's as far as her concentrated effort goes. Then her hands curl around his shoulders, one remains in place while the other slips down his arm until her palm touches lightly against his.

There's no music, but the prostitute doesn't really need any. Closing her eyes, she takes a few deep breaths before her muscles loosen just a little. Her spine doesn't lose any of its rigidity even after she looks up at him again.

"Is that why you're so distant?" At least from the girls at the Dovetail. And the other patrons of the Albatross. "You don't want to be controlled?" The blonde looks down at their feet, waiting for him to begin leading her. "You don't need to worry about me trying, Mister Fogg, I can barely keep control of myself."

"You've just woken up from a coma," Algernon counters down reasonably to claims of herblessness. Possibly also as a reason not to dance around her princess tower, where he smells like smoke and she smells like smoke and so does everything else.

His rigidity is a different animal — habitual, through the V of his shoulders and the stiff of his lower back, and lax, once the initial pressure to respond to her dance proposal has subsided. He does not intend to lead or follow, the hand she's touched to his lifted so that he can chuckle bleakly at it rather than into her face (rude) when she guesses at a fear of being controlled and subsequently reassures him that he has nothing to fear from her in that regard. "Thank you," he tells her anyway, too dry to manage real gravitas. "That's a terrific relief."

"No, it wasn't a coma and that was days ago."

Since Algernon isn't taking the initiative, Luna takes it upon herself to take a few steps. At the very least, she draws him out enough that all he has to do is walk in a tight circle. "I made you laugh," she would smile up at him except it might be that she's the subject of the laugh. Still. "It wasn't so funny, I've been told that I could put many a man in debt." As if that's some measure of control.

"I'm pretty enough, though right now I'm not so sure." It's the smell, movement brings it out a little more and with a wrinkle of her nose, she stops. "Would you like to join me for a bath?"

You are ridiculous, Forge observes after a long and judgmental silence.

She is ridiculous. Algernon is accomodating enough to step slowly along with her, keeping lazy time for all that it would be a stretch to call it dancing.

Yes, agrees Forge, and you're enabling her —

She's a prostitute.

— 'Mister Fogg.'

And so on. "Well," Algernon says aloud, risidual tension at the corners of his eyes obscured by the slant of half a smile, "you already owe me your life and a favor, so — looks aside — as far as debts are concerned, your resource management could use some work."

Then, again, she asks him a question he doesn't anticipate, and again, he has to stop and assess whether or not she's serious. Or literal. Or teasing. "I'm not sure," he hedges after a pause spent scanning her face, "you're in the best condition…"

"That's what the bath is for," Luna argues, stepping away from Fogg and pulling the shawl over her shoulders again. The front is tied in a loose knot, leaving her hands free again, to assault him. "I can assure you that I'm quite good at getting things clean." Without burning them. "I have herbs that would relax you, not the ingestible kind. I promise you'll be as sober as you are now."

Turning toward the door, she pauses by the bed to pull a chest out from underneath it. Unstrapping its leather bindings, she sifts through its contents until she finds a few different fronds. "This one has a lovely scent, mixed with some lavender it will be marvelous." She pauses and looks over at him with raised eyebrows. "I promise no perfumes either, you don't seem much of a man for wearing them."

Hands left a beat where she'd left him, hip and hand high, Algernon considers his options, which. Boil down into even yes or no odds while she rustles around in the chest under her bed.

He should say no, a fact acknowledged in the upright set of his shoulders and a sideways incline about the rest of him as he watches her. He just — doesn't. Even when he's prompted to after he's taken too long to answer.

"…If you're sure."

The answer gives her cause to stop rummaging and look up at him for a moment before her lips curve up into a slight smirk. "I'm quite sure, Mister Fogg," she says, flipping the lid shut and pushing the chest back with her foot. The pile of items carried in her hands seems rather small, for the two of them, amounting to a bar of soap, some herbs and a folded square of cloth that has the same color and texture as the shapeless nightshirt she's all too fond of wearing.

She pauses by the door, nodding toward it as an invitation for Fogg to lead the way down the stairs. "The cold has sobered me enough that I can guarantee that you'll feel much better by the time you leave."

Slow to lean into that first step, Algernon rocks warily back on his heel once he has, progress ensnared by superego. He's held out for this long.

But as far as internal struggles go, this one is short-lived. If it gets weird — if she gets weird — he can extricate himself. With a preoccupied nod to acknowledge her invitation, he continues wordlessly on for the door to draw it open, coat left to dry itself of lingering damp from the snow on her dresser.